A selective critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
WandaVision (streaming on Disney+): A superhero series that a Nick at Nite junkie would love, the streamer's first original series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe finds Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and her android mate Vision (Paul Bettany) caught in a bizarre time loop of classic TV sitcomedy. Are they channeling Rob and Laura Petrie from The Dick Van Dyke Show, or Samantha and Darrin from Bewitched — and if not, where is all that laughter coming from? Weird, mysterious and insanely entertaining, WandaVision is the trippiest, buzziest new show of 2021. (See the full review.)
One Night in Miami (streaming on Amazon Prime Video): With an Oscar and four Emmys to her credit for acting, Regina King shows an equal affinity behind the camera as the director of this Oscar-contending showcase for Black leading men, each portraying a seminal figure in 1960s (and beyond) culture. Kemp Powers (Soul) adapts his own stage play, which imagines a 1964 evening in the Miami motel room of Malcolm X (an impassioned but restrained Kingsley Ben-Adir), who's helping his newly converted Muslim acolyte Cassius Clay (the spot-on Eli Gore) celebrate his ascension as "Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World" on the eve of his becoming Muhammed Ali. Joining the party, in a searing examination of Black celebrity, representation and responsibility in the heat of the civil-rights movement, are pro-football star-turned-actor Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and crooner Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) The verbal sparring among these celebrated men is fascinating to behold.
Belle Collective (10/9c, OWN): Far from being another "Real Housewives of Jackson" cocktail clique, this docuseries focuses on the lives and careers of five Black female entrepreneurs in Jackson, Mississippi, seeking to revitalize the community with the help of Lateshia Pearson, CEO of the National Women’s Brunch Organization. Others in her orbit include Dr. Antoinette Liles, a rarity as a female Black dentist, opening her own practice after a divorce; Latrice Rogers, something of a modern-day Madam C.J. Walker with her own hair-care business; Marie Hamilton-Abston, CEO of the Hamilton Davis Mental Health empire; and outspoken radio personality Tambra Cherie.
Bling Empire (streaming on Netflix): More of a guilty pleasure, this reality series echoes Crazy Rich Asians with its depiction of Asian and Asian-American BFFs based in Los Angeles who spend their days and nights partying, shopping and, naturally, gossiping.
Also new to Netflix: the action/fantasy film Outside the Wire, a military adventure pairing a demoted drone pilot (Snowfall's Damson Idris) with an android super-soldier officer (Anthony Mackie) in the hunt for a doomsday device… The documentary short What Would Sophia Loren Do? profiles Nancy "Vincenza" Kulik, an Italian-American mother and grandmother from New Jersey whose admiration for the movie star's grace and resilience grounds her own upbeat life philosophy and strength during times of crisis… A third season of Matt Groening's animated fantasy Disenchantment continues to follow the antics of medieval Princess Bean (voiced by Broad City's Abbi Jacobson) as she haphazardly pursues her destiny.
Inside Friday TV: The Apple TV+ tree continues bearing fruit, with a second season of the bizarre Servant joining Dickinson with fresh episodes… CBS's Magnum, P.I. (9/8c) welcomes back original-series star Roger E. Mosley (the first TC) in his recurring role as John Booky, in an episode where Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and his buds take shelter in La Mariana during a hurricane, only to be joined by two armed killers… PBS' NewsHour moves into prime time with American Reckoning — a PBS NewsHour Special Report (9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), anchored by Judy Woodruff, which examines the economic and racial factors that underscored the Trump era of misinformation and how the nation might yet heal after last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol and democracy… Then you can soothe your soul with The Magic of Callas (10/9c, check local listings at pbs.org), a Great Performances appreciation of opera diva Maria Callas, focusing on the soprano's legendary comeback performance of Tosca at London's Royal Opera House in 1964… Or you could opt for fireworks, when HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher (10/9c) returns for a 19th season with guests including Kellyanne Conway, former Senior Counselor to outgoing and twice-impeached President Trump.